Front Page Titles (by Subject) DISCOURSE VII.: Of the Corruption in the Roman Seats of Justice, and the Oppression in the Provinces. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
Return to Title Page for The Works of Sallust (Gordon’s Discourses, Cicero’s Orations against Catiline)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
DISCOURSE VII.: Of the Corruption in the Roman Seats of Justice, and the Oppression in the Provinces. - Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), The Works of Sallust (Gordon’s Discourses, Cicero’s Orations against Catiline) 
The Works of Sallust, translated into English with Political Discourses upon that Author. To which is added, a translation of Cicero’s Four Orations against Catiline (London: R. Ware, 1744).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain. It was scanned and originally put online by one of the collaborators in the Internet Archive project [archive.org] for scholarship and research purposes. We have added tables of contents, pagination, and other educational aids where appropriate.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Of the Corruption in the Roman Seats of Justice, and the Oppression in the Provinces.
Of the extreme Difficulty in procuring Justice at Rome, against any considerable Criminal.
IN a State where Corruption so exceedingly prevailed, both by Faction and Bribery, (for Party corrupts as powerfully as Money) it is no Wonder, to find the Parts resembling the Whole, all tainted by the general Contagion; the People sordid, as well as seditious; the Senators rapacious, as well as profuse; Justice sold, because the Seats of Justice were bought; the Provinces, having cost their Governors great Sums to purchase them, plundered and scraped to the Bone, that the Purchasers might repay themselves Tensold; Oppressors safe; since, having payed a Price for oppressing, they claimed a Right to oppress; and the greatest Criminal never found so, till he was found, first, poor.
Did a distressed Prince or State, even such as were under the Protection of the Roman Commonwealth, apply to the Roman Senate for Relief? It availed little, if the Offender could but prove his Innocence by large Bribes. At best, an Admonition is sent to him to forbear; that is, in Effect, an Order to send fresh Fees to his Judges; and not to forget their Deputies, that these may make a favourable Report. Perhaps, after repeated Complaints and Representations of his barbarous Outrages, and Acts of Tyranny, he is summoned to appear in Person, and to answer the Charge: Still he may deny all, and be believed, (for, why should a Man be condemned upon the Accusation of his Enemies?) if he do but confirm his Denial by more Treasure. Though his Deeds be black as Hell, his Guilt as apparent as the Day, the Suit may depend, and he be safe, for many Years, provided he has large Presents to urge in his Defence.
Whose Crimes were or could be more black, manifest, unprovoked, and crying, than those of Jugurtha? Yet he wanted not many Advocates in the Senate, who, for ready Money, or the Hopes of it, boldly denied them to have been done; or defended them, as done in his own Defence. Such, whom he had traiterously murdered, or whose Murder he was openly pursuing, were said to have laid Plots to murder Him; and, whilst at the Head of a great Army, in the Face of the Sun, he was usurping and ravaging the Dominions of a poor weak Prince, who only fled before him; nay, when he had already usurped those Dominions, still the poor suffering Prince was the Aggressor, and the bloody Jugurtha was vindicated, as forced to Arms, for his own Security against the terrible Attempts of his persecuted, desolate, and forlorn Enemy; whom, having stripped him of all but Life, he soon bereft of That, with all the Circumstances of savage Cruelty.
All this will be fully and finely illustrated in Sallust’s Account of the Jugurthine War.
The wonderful Guilt and Enormities of Verres in Sicily, confidently committed, from Assurance of Impunity. Cicero’s Character of the Judges: Their bold and constant Venality.
WE may be sure, where the Root was so corrupt, the Branches were not sound. If the People were mercenary, if the Senate was venal, and the Government of the Republic vicious and depraved at home, that of the Provinces must be, at least, as bad, or rather much worse. Let us take a View of the Administration of Verres in Sicily.
From the Moment he entered that Island, whither he was sent by the Republic as Governor, to protect the People in their Lives; Properties, and Laws, he applied himself, with all his Might and Malice, with all possible Arts and Violence, to seize their Property, in spite of their Laws; and to destroy both their Laws and Lives, in order to come at their Property. His Government was, literally, a merciless Course of Hostility and Plunder: He beggared the Rich; starved the common People; murdered such as threatened to complain; and, to shew himself an impartial Oppressor, spared neither the Public nor Individuals; but plundered even the Temples of all their Treasure, Statues, and magnificent Furniture; stripped Men of Fortune to the Skin, nay, hanged and whipped them, though Men of the first Dignity, for not consenting to all his Felonies and Plunder.
His Way of spoiling the religious Edifices was not quite so open: He sent Bands of Villains, by Night, to break into them, and carry off their Gold, their Images, and all their curious Ornaments. I forget whether the Statue of Hercules escaped; a Statue so adored in his Temple at Agrigentum, that his Mouth and Beard were worn away with the devout Kisses of his Worshippers: Probably it did not; since it was charged against him, (nor do I remember the Charge to have been denied) that, in all Sicily, an Island so rich, so large, so populous, so abounding in all Curiosities, wonderful Works of Art, and in all sorts of Luxury, he left not one Vase of Silver, or Corinthian Metal; not a Pearl, or Precious-stone; not a single Piece curiously wrought, either in Gold or Ivory; not a Statue of Brass or Marble; not a fine Picture, either painted, or in Tapestry; not a Piece of nice or antique Armour.
When a Pitate-Ship was seized upon the Coasts, Verres, instead of executing the Crew, as by Law and Justice he ought, claudestinely sold and disposed of all that were well-favoured, and all that were Artists among them; them executed, in their room, so many innocent Men, no Matter whom, as if They had been the Pirates.
By such hideous Oppression, this Governor Verres desolated and wasted Sicily, more than any soreign and hostile Army ever had done; more than ever Asdrubal had done, with all his fierce Africans and Mercenaries; more than ever Athenion had done, with all his cruel Host of Vagabonds and Banditti; and the Oppression of Verres proved more consuming than foreign Arms; drove away and destroyed more of the People; nay, utterly discouraged such as remained, from cultivating the Ground; since not they themselves, but a barbarous Magistrate, and his Blood-suckers, were to reap the Harvest. Nay, when the Government of Verres, or, more properly, his Period of plundering, was over, and he gone, it was a hard Task, to engage the poor broken-hearted Sicilians to manure their Fields any more: Indeed, many of them were fled, and could hardly be brought back again: Several, made desperate by his Violence, and the Rapine of his Harpies, to escape Him and Them, laid violent Hands upon themselves; and preferred the Rope, and the Dagger, to the Mercy and Justice of their Governor.
If any Man, under this insupportable Tyranny, dared to appeal to the Law, Verres, who still had the matchless Assurance to talk of Law and Justice, was provided with a Set of proper Judges; all his own Domestics and Freedmen; such as his Physician, his Augur, his Painter, and his Crier. He had the Impudence to declare to some, who seemed determined to stand a Trial, that, if they were condemned, (as he was sure and resolved they should be, by his faithful Knaves the Judges) they should be scourged till they perished under the Lash.
There is no such thing, as a Governor acting the Oppressor and Plunderer, without the Assistance of trusty Knaves and Confidents; such as those of Verres; his Apronius, his Arthemedorus, and many others. Apronius, particularly, a useful Implement, and in proportionable Favour, had always some of the Pillage for himself, for procuring all the rest to his Master. This is a Condition always understood, though not always stipulated, between the Great Thief and his Subaltern Thieves; who sometimes cheat him, if not always; and get as much, perhaps more than He. Nor is there, I believe, an Instance of any ravening Magistrate who was not the Dupe, if not the Property and Slave, of some Creature and Slave of his own: Nor doth it avail, that he is; but it is melancholy and unnatural, to see a great Magistrate, extremely honest and well-meaning, surrounded with dirty Fellows, and governed by them; sometimes very silly Fellows. This often happens, though he knows it not, when all others do; and seldom fails to be the Misfortune of all who possess great Power, together with great Credulity, and great Indolence; since it is a Misfortune, which, I doubt not, will, in some degree, attend the most active and most vigilant great Man. I could name a great and able Minister, famous for sound Judgment, and clean Hands; yet ingrossed, at his Leisure-hours, by Harpy Gamesters, and Jockies of the same Spirit, and miserable Morals; but for the high Honour I have for his Memory.
Verres, amongst his other bad Instruments, entertained Two Artists and Connoisseurs, and employed them to find out Prey for him. They were two Brothers, Tlepolimus and Hiero, Rogues who had fled from their Country for public Robbery; and proved such active Agents for Verres, that no other Way was found of saving any thing valuable from them, but that of bribeing them to dispraise it to their Master.
Verres was not such a Changeling, not to know what he did.----He was well apprised, that it was all against Law and Trust; and played the Tyrant with his Eyes open. What he depended upon was, either to escape Accusation, (for All guilty Magistrates were not tried, though Some were) or to escape Punishment by corrupting his Judges. The Truth is, the Tribunals of Justice were then become infamous: For, by the Power of Sylla, they had been taken from the Roman Knights, who had administered them for Fifty Years without Reproach; and committed to Senators, who were altogether venal. This gave Hopes to Verres; who, being Three Years Prætor or chief Governor of Sicily, proposed to keep the First Year’s Rapine to Himself; to employ that of the Second amongst his Patrons and Defenders; and that of the Third to bribe his Judges.
Was it not glorious Merit, to implead and pursue such a dareing Parricide, and to patronize such as he had oppressed; especially as he was furnished with powerful Advocates, and appeared to have mighty Interest? Yes, such a shocking Parricide, so glareing a Criminal as Verres, one of the blackest that ever lived, had Protectors, many, and able, and potent Protectors: Nor was it any longer a Wonder, when that bloody Usurper Jugurtha, one of the guiltiest Men that ever the World saw, had, by the Force of Gold, engaged so many Grandees; and thence eluded Chastisement for so many Years. Even the famous Orator Hortensius, otherwise a worthy Roman, was not ashamed to plead for Verres; though, according to Cicero, neither Crassus nor Antonius, nor any of the antient Orators, would have appeared in Behalf of such a notorious Profligate. So corrupt were the Romans then grown, particularly the Senators, that it was difficult, indeed scarce possible, to procure common Justice against a Plunderer of their Order, or of any Order, if he had Money enough. Upon this Verres relied; but the Attack of Cicero was so strong, the Charge so heinous, so horrible, and so well proved, that the People took Fire, and his Judges durst not save him.
Justly, therefore, might that great Orator, and invaluable Citizen, say, in his first Discourse against Verres; ‘How can I, at this Conjuncture, become more useful to the State? What can be more acceptable to the People of Rome; what more to the Wishes of our Allies, and even of strange Nations? What more suitable to human Society, and the Felicity of all Men? The Provinces are ravaged, distressed, nay, totally ruined: The confederate, the tributary Countries are squeezed, harrassed, and reduced to Misery, without Hopes of Deliverance; and only hope for some Ease in this their Desolation.’
He deals honestly and frankly with the Judges; and tells them, ‘There is no longer any Integrity, no longer any Conscience, in our Judgments. We (Senators) are considered as nothing: The Roman People scorn and contemn us; and we have been long decried.’ And, as the blackest Parricides were daily acquitted, he exhorts them, ‘To redeem their Order from that Infamy, that public Indignation and Shame, which they had thus drawn upon themselves.’ He adds, that, ‘When Pompey, upon being designed Consul, began, in his Speech to the People, to declare, that he would restore the Tribunals of Justice to their primitive Credit, he was heard with a pleasing Murmur of Applause: But, when he proceeded to complain, that the Provinces were ravaged and undone, the Decisions of the Judges unjust and scandalous; and that, by his Consular Authority, he would remedy these Evils; it was no longer in a low Murmur, but with loud Acclamations, that all the People of Rome expressed their Sentiments and Joy.
‘In this Accusation, and the Result of it, You (says Cicero to them) will judge Verres; but the Roman People will judge You: And Verres will serve for an Example, whether a Man who is extremely guilty, but extremely rich, can be condemned, when Senators are his Judges. So that, if he be acquitted, no Reasons will be found for it, but such as are most infamous and reproachful.’ He adds, that ‘They had now an Opportunity of obliterating that Blemish and Odium, with which, for several Years, the Order of Senators had been branded.’
The Friends of Verres seem to have judged him in no Danger, notwithstanding all his infinite Guilt and Excesses. Timarchides, directing his Brother Freedman Apronius how to act, namely, so as to save their common Master Verres, advised him to offer to All whatever was found expedient; and declares his Opinion, that, to succeed, he need only be liberal.
It appears from hence, how prevalent such Practices then were; and that a corrupt Man thinks no Man incorruptible; though, surely, there are always some such. Worthy was the Answer of Epaminondas to Diomedon of Cyzicus; who had undertaken, to Artaxerxes, to gain over that extraordinary Theban Magistrate and Commander by the Force of Money; and, for that Purpose, came to Thebes with a mighty Sum: ‘There is no need of Money (said Epaminondas): If the King of Persia aim at such Measures as are for the Interest of the Thebans, I am ready to comply with them, without any Reward: If he aim at contrary Measures, All his Wealth suffices not: Nor will I, for the Riches of the Universe, forego my Affection to my Country. At thy Offer I wonder not: Thou hast tried me, because thou didst not know me, and thoughtest me like Thyself. Hasten, however, from hence, lest thou corrupt Others, though thou didst fail in thy Attempt upon Me.’
It might have been easily foreseen, with what Equity Verres was like to govern Sicily, from his Conduct at Rome, during his Prætorship there. In it he sold All things, as well as Justice and Decrees; every Place, every Charge; even Rank, and Order, and Speech; for he exacted great Sums for Liberty of Pleading. He robbed whatever he could reach, not only Silver and Gold, but Ivory and Stone, Pictures, Statues, Cabinets, Furniture, Stuffs, Cloths, Corn, &c. Even Hyrondilla, his Mistress, (a Bond-woman) was then absolute at Rome. To her, Men of the greatest Worth and Quality were forced to make Application, and Presents: Insomuch that, at her House, a great Court was kept, for the Buying of Business, and the Purchase of Pardons and Injustice. Here, says Cicero, new Decrees were daily solicited, with new Laws, and new Judgments. ‘I come, says one, to have Possession granted me. I beg, says another, that Possession may not be taken from me. I, adds a Third, pray, that Process be not issued out against me. And my Suit, says the next, is, that my Effects may be adjudged to me.’ Thus they severally addressed and petitioned. Some payed ready Money; others signed Notes; and her House was crouded with such a Number of Suitors, that it appeared rather like an Exchange, than the Lodgings of a Courtezan.
The Virtue of the old Romans, in the Administration of Justice, and Government of Provinces. Their Posterity, and Successors, how unlike them. The wise and righteous Administration of Cicero, with that of the Provincial Governors in China.
GREAT Wealth had introduced into Rome, what it everywhere introduces, a blind Passion for Wealth, and endless Corruption. It is a Pleasure to look back to better Times and Men, in that mighty Republic; to review the Characters and Conduct of Scipio Africanus, of Lucius Scipio, of Marcus Marcellus, Titus Flaminius, Paulus Æmilius, and Lucius Mummius, Conquerors of great Kingdoms, their clear Hands at Home and Abroad, and their Benevolence to all Men. When we read their Story, how must we detest Verres, and all Oppressors! When we read the Story of Verres, how we must love the above amiable Names, and all who resemble them!
Lucius Mummius having, when Consul, vanquished and taken Corinth, of all the immense Wealth in that famous City, reserved nothing to himself; and died so poor, as to leave his Daughter, and only Child, without a Fortune. Lucius Scipio was so scrupulous, that, when he had broken his Ring, he ordered the Gold for another to be weighed out publickly to the Goldsmith, that there might be no room to cheat the Treasury which furnished it. Quintus Mutius governed Asia with such Integrity and Beneficence, that the Greeks there, upon his Departure, instituted an annual Festival to his Honour, called the Feast of Mutius.
There were found, to the last, some good Governors of the Roman Provinces; but generally they were very bad. The Julian Law, which obliged the Provincial Towns to supply such as travelled through them, under a public Character, with Hay, Salt, and Wood, was terribly stretched and abused. These Commodities were not only demanded from the Towns in which they lay, but from every Town through which they passed; and for these Advantages, which they wanted not, they took an Equivalent in Money, called perhaps a Perquisite, and, by the Force of a dishonest Word, reckoned lawful, though against Law, at least, the reasonable Meaning of Law.
These Governors found infinite Gain, in another Source of notorious Corruption, by levying great Sums from the several Cities and Districts, for excusing them from furnishing Winter Quarters to the Soldiers. Cyprus alone paid to the Governor of Cilicia, to which that Island was annexed, Two Hundred Attic Talents, computed at near Forty Thousand Pounds Sterling. Doubtless, nothing but the Dread of terrible Vengeance, for refusing so barbarous a Demand, could have brought the Cypriots to submit to it. Nor was the Governor the only Oppressor; his Lieutenants, and all his Officers and Followers, were Oppressors too. Nay, Stripes, with cruel Insults and Contumelies, exercised upon the Persons of the Plundered, never failed to accompany the Plunder. Scaptius, an Officer and Creature of the Governor of Cilicia, beset the Senate of Salamine, in the same Island, with a Body of Horse, and confined them so long together, that Five of them died of Hunger; I suppose, in order to force them into some lusty Boon, as well as into the Payment of a Debt due at Rome, which was the avowed Pretence.
It was not enough, that the Public provided Shipping, and Money, and whatever else was necessary, for the Journey of the Governors of Provinces, to prevent all Pretence of any Demand upon the poor People, sufficiently burdened with public Impositions. The Lust of Gain, and unbridled Rule, proved too hard for Law, and every other Consideration. Nay, what is most remarkable of all, the wretched Asiatics, so much oppressed by that very Governor of Cilicia, were prevailed with to send a solemn Deputation to Rome, at a vast Expence, to thank him publicly there. This extraordinary Practice was, however, not singular: The People of Messina, a great City in Sicily, dispatched the like Deputation to Rome, there publicly to praise that Monster Verres for his good Administration. We may guess how such Deputations were procured.
Cicero was the succeeding Governor in Cilicia; a blessed Change for the People! a public Saviour for a public Plunderer! He found them utterly unable to pay their Taxes: All their Revenues were mortgaged; nothing but Poverty, Groans, and Wailings, with all the Traces of a Government, not exercised by a human Creature over those of his own Kind, but by a wild Beast of Prey, ravaging human Society. No Wonder that they were charmed with the mild and virtuous Administration of Cicero. Yet, his Predecessor, far from being punished for his furious Misrule, was chosen into the most awful Office of the State, and created Censor. He was a Man, indeed, of high Quality, and high Spirit, and, which may seem wonderful, filled that sublime Station with great Integrity, as well as Vigour; indeed more strictly than was expedient for that critical Conjuncture, as I have already elsewhere observed.
From this his very opposite Administration of different Offices, I am inclinable to think, that, when Censor, he acted in his own Person; when Governor, left his Authority in the Hands of his Officers and Followers; as it often happens, that the best Men make the worst Governors, since they exert not their best Qualities, and, bearing only the Name, blindly trust others with the Discharge of their Duty. For, though the Spirit and Behaviour of Men be strangely various, yet it is not usually wont to change so suddenly and intirely, from a constant Course of Violence and Injustice, to a constant Course of invincible Probity and Justice.
Cicero, in his Journey to his Government, travelled wholly at his own Expence, and proved burdensome to none. He would not accept even the Benefit of the Julian Law. All his Retinue observed the same Moderation. He considered himself as employed to procure the Good of Mankind, with the Blessings and Praises of all such as he protected, and even of all whom he oppressed not, nor suffered to be oppressed. Such Virtue was then too rare, but thence the more glorious to him. Like other great and worthy Minds, he scorned to take every base Advantage from his Place. As he behaved himself, so did those about him; observing his Conduct, consulting his Honour, and following his Example. About a corrupt Man, every thing will be corrupt. Cicero was too quick, and attentive, to suffer his Administration to be stained by the Venality, or Oppression, of his Creatures, whilst his own Hands and Heart, and whole Conduct, were so clear, and so virtuously exercised, to procure the Ease and Felicity of the Province. It was therefore a just and honourable Testimony given of him by the famous Cato, ‘That the Excellency of his Government deserved high Praise; and, if public Honours were bestowed upon Virtue, as well as upon Victory, Cicero could never have too many.’
Cicero believed that it was the Duty of all Generals, and Governors of Provinces, to be content with the Glory of a righteous Administration, without any other Advantage. Nihil enim prætor laudem bonis atque innocentibus, neque ex hostibus, neque a sociis repetendum. The Conquests of Marcus Marcellus, in Sicily, were not more glorious to himself and the Commonwealth, than his Faith, and Disinterestedness, and Humanity, towards the Conquered. Such an Administration, brought not only high Glory to Rome, and her Magistrates, but equal Security and Strength. But such good Rule was far from being constant or universal. It grew common for the Roman Rulers, sent to rescue the Provinces from a foreign Enemy, to oppress and plunder them afterwards, with equal Violence, and continue it longer, and turn a small and temporary Deliverance into a severe and lasting Tyranny. A dreadful Circumstance to the Provinces, when they durst neither submit to Invaders, nor apply for Succours against them, nor forbear to apply. Thus the Roman Armies became more terrible than an Enemy’s Army. The Countries suffered less from a merciful Conqueror, than from their Governors afterwards, when they were intitled to Law and Protection. The natural Consequence was, that, when Rome lost her Liberty, the Provinces, long oppressed by her Citizens, readily complied with the Change, and submitted to the Government of the Cæsars.
Rare then were such good Governors from Rome as Cicero proved, and rare the Punishment of bad there. Almost all the great Men were corrupt, and, as in a common Cause, stood by one another. They who were to judge the Criminal, had been either Criminals, or expected to be; and therefore were little disposed to punish him for what they had practised, or were determined to practise, themselves. The lawful Gain of such Governments seemed small, without oppressing for more; and thus most of them undertook them purposely to oppress; for they were generally indigent, or rapacious, or both; and, as they were always Men of great Quality, who are not always the most virtuous, they ever depended upon powerful Protection at home.
Caius Macer, Governor of Asia, when accused for his lawless Administration there, before Cicero, then Prætor, though notoriously guilty, yet trusted so strongly to the Credit and Intercession of the renowned Marcus Crassus, his Kinsman, as boldly to put off his mourning Habit, which Men under Arraignment always wore; nor would he have been condemned by his Judges, notwithstanding all his Guilt, had it not been by the Power and Management of Cicero.
The famous Catiline was roundly acquitted of the like Charge, brought against him by the People of Africa, where he had been Governor; though his Guilt was as glaring as the Sun at Noonday: Nay, he impudently stood Candidate for the supreme Office of the Commonwealth, that of Consul, whilst he was yet under Arraignment.
When the Judges, appointed to try the wild and abandoned Clodius, desired a Guard for their Security; Catulus, who knew that they had been corrupted, asked them, If it was through Fear that the Money, with which they had been bribed, should be taken from them?
Lentulus, he who afterwards conspired with Catiline, having bribed his Judges, and being acquitted by a Majority of Two, declared publicly, that he regretted the Money given to one of them.
Had not, therefore, Caius Gracchus good Grounds to press the People of Rome, to transfer the Tribunals from the Senators to the Equestrian Order, when he urged, with so much Truth, that the Plebeians must never expect Justice, in any Dispute with the Nobility, when the Criminals themselves, or their Friends and Relations, sat as Judges? He alleged two recent Examples, of Cornelius Cotta, and Marcus Acilius, two principal Senators, guilty of scandalous Extortion undeniably proved, but suffered to escape Punishment, through the Corruption and Pattiality of their Judges.
Du Vignau relates a remarkable Instance of Avarice, Corruption, and Oppression, in the prime Vizier Cara Mustapha; that as he took the Tribute of Moldavia in Cattle, chiefly in Goats, such numerous Flocks were driven from thence to Constantinople, that, to make the most of them, he forced that great City to eat no other Meat but Goats Flesh for several Days together, till the Whole was consumed. Nuuman Bashaw, of the famous Family of Kuproli, Grand Vizier to the late deposed Sultan Achmet, had a more merciful Spirit. When that Prince, who was extremely covetous, and void of all Tenderness for his Subjects, had determined to break the Truce with the Czar of Muscovy, as the War could not be carried on without laying new and heavier Taxes upon the People, he ordered such to be forthwith raised. The Vizier first represented, that it was impossible; for that nothing ought to be levied upon the Subjects but what the Law and their Prophet prescribed: Then, perceiving such merciful Counsel to be displeasing to Achmet, he added, boldly, that, if he liked it nor, he must chuse another Vizier better skilled in the Arts of Oppression, like some that he had had not long before.
However great the Power be of the Provincial Mandarins in China, it is not sufficient to support them in the Exercise of their Charge, unless they act with such Benevolence, and public Spirit, as to be reputed the Fathers, as well as Governors, of the People. They therefore strive to enrich their Provinces, and employ the People profitably: They even extend their Cares to all Quarters and Persons. One of the Occupations of these great Mandarins is likewise to instruct the People, which they do with great Assiduity and Gravity twice a Month, upon important moral Subjects, upon all public and private Duties, in a plain Style, by Arguments obvious to their Understandings; without any Terms of Ambiguity and Strife, or distracting the Heads of the poor People with Chimeras, Subtleties, and egregious Nonsense.
The Mandarins are supposed, by such frequent Instructions, so to form the Minds and Morals of the People, as to prevent the Commission of all notable Crimes; and, when such Crimes happen, the Mandarin is answerable for them, or obliged, at least, to find out and punish the Criminals: Nay, he is sometimes turned out of the Government, where such Crimes prevail, merely because they prevail; for that they are supposed to proceed from his little Care in instructing the People.
It is from such Institutions as these, that the Chinese Provinces surpass all the Nations of the Earth in Numbers, as that Government, in general, does in good Policy, and consequently in Felicity; insomuch that, in Compation with the Antiquity and Stability of the Government of China, all the Governments of the Earth besides are but of Yesterday.